Finding my 'thing'
Growing up I was always the “sporty” type that was until, like most I think, I went to university and found other things to do with my free time – going out, drinking, eating rubbish – having fun! I didn’t really miss it at all but then when I was going to get married I joined a local gym to shift a few pounds before the wedding dress fittings. It was short-lived! I was in my late twenties and too busy working to make staying fit a habit.
I didn’t bother even thinking about exercise again until my second child was about 2. I was much heavier than I liked, not comfortable in my skin and generally feeling a bit fed up with how I felt (and looked). The family beach holidays were wonderful but I was self-conscious and forever comparing myself to my friends who just bounced back. My clothes were always tight and shopping no longer a pleasure; I hid under big jumpers and blamed two years of breastfeeding on my insatiable need for cake.
Getting into the habit
I can’t remember exactly what the trigger was but I finally got up the courage to “get fit”. I found a local personal trainer and took the plunge. The initial stages were tough but before too long I started to feel better. Not just in my body but in my head. Being a fretter who can sometimes get down, the regular exercise was incredible for my mindset. There’s a sign in the studio that says “you’re one workout away from a good mood”, how true! Don’t get me wrong, it was not an overnight transformation and there were days where I couldn’t be bothered. Eventually it was something I looked forward to, I’d made it a habit. I became a regular at the studio, going to three or sometimes four classes a week. I met some fantastic people of all ages and from different walks of life – people younger than me through to their 80s – everyone working at their own pace for their own goals and enjoyment. I had found my exercise happy place! That said, I was still carrying those negative thoughts of self-comparison and being harder on myself that I probably should be. During the time I was at the studio I also tried to re-find the girl who went to 8 dance classes a week – I tried Barre (which is amazing!) run by a friend and went to hot yoga too. With both of these I went for a bit, enjoyed the exercise but always came back to the fitness classes.
Time for a change
Last summer I found myself wanting a change and a new challenge so, after a recommendation from a mum at school, I decided to try something different. The initial visit to the new gym was intimidating (picture me at 5ft 3”, not in bad shape arriving at a gym where everyone looked like Adonis, no joke – they do!). I was already thinking, I can’t do this, I was self-conscious again and almost shy. Anyway, the woman I met was so friendly and we hit it off immediately. I spent most of the first month red faced, achy and a bit frustrated at my slow progress but now, after 6 months I’m loving the workout, I’ve made amazing new friends and am well and truly committed to training.
The difference now to 4 years ago is that I can see that exercise, weight training specifically, is not just about my body or even my mood (though positive changes are a welcome bonus). It’s about having something that is mine. Something I do entirely for me, and my own enjoyment. The motivation for a different dress size is not the driving force anymore, I am. I’m pushing myself and excited to see what I can do.
Some may call it vanity; others label you a “gym freak” or just a mummy with too much free time. Let’s face it, most people don’t have an opinion at all, but my own insecurities convinced me otherwise and that is something I’ve struggled with way longer than carrying the extra baby weight. The revelation is I’m finally focusing on myself. So, along with feeling better physically and mentally, I’m now less concerned with what other people may or may not think. For me it is the gym, for others its something else – whatever it is, it isn’t selfish to take time for yourself or set yourself goals. Find your “thing”, make it a habit, work at it, enjoy it and it may well bring way more benefits than you imagine.